Seminar in Iranian Studies: The Kalmakarra Trove


Past Event

Seminar in Iranian Studies: The Kalmakarra Trove

March 28, 2023
5:00 PM - 7:00 PM
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Faculty House, Columbia University

The Kalmakarra Trove 

Trudy S. Kawami

Columbia University Faculty House

Tuesday, March 28

5 pm

Description:  In the winter of 1989 a hunter in the central Zagros Mountains of western Iran found a large cave complex high on a cliff side. Later exploration by local residents revealed caches of silver vessels in several of the chambers.  More than 70 of these vessels were secured by the Iranian Cultural Heritage Organization (ICHO) and are housed in museums in Tehran, Khorramabad and Ilam, but a larger number were clandestinely removed, surfacing later in the international art market.  Over 100 of these vessels, many with Elamite inscriptions, have been reassembled in a private collection in the Near East. A comparison of the collected vessels with those remaining in Iran, as well as examination via surface microscopy and XRF analysis has yielded insights into the nature of the trove.  One observation is that many of the vessels both in Iran as well as outside are Assyrian rather than Iranian in both shape and décor.  The similarities suggest that the bulk of the Kalmakarra Trove was formed of the loot removed from Assur, Nimrud and/or Nineveh during the attacks of 614-612 BCE by mountain dwellers from the Zagros.  Many of the vessels that appear Iranian in form and décor have the same alloy as the Assyrian vessels suggesting that the Iranian pieces were fashioned from damaged or otherwise unusable Assyrian vessels.  A survey of the trove will be provided as well as a discussion of date and of the difficulties in dealing with metalwork lacking a secure provenance.

Bio: Dr. Trudy Kawami is an expert in the art of ancient Near East and has carried out research in Turkey, Iran, and Central Asia, and in major European and American museums. Dr. Kawami’s publications include Monumental Art of the Parthian Period in Iran (1987), Ancient Iranian Ceramics from the Arthur M. Sackler Collections (1992), and Breath of Heaven, Breath of Earth: Ancient Near Eastern Art from American Collections (2013); she has also authored numerous essays on ancient Near Eastern art and artistic and cultural connections between East and West Asia along the Silk Route.

Please note:
RSVP to Mahnaz Moazami at [email protected] whether you will attend the talk or both the talk and the dinner after the discussion. Also note, the Faculty House has returned to charging $30 for dinner, for which they ask that you pay with a personal check.  

Chaired by Mahnaz Moazami (Yarshater Center for Iranian Studies, Columbia University)